However, in the eighteenth century, a lady would never enter a coffee house. So, to purchase her tea, she would have to wait in her carriage whilst a male servant would enter the shop and make the transaction on her behalf. Thomas spotted an opportunity here. Having acquired the three neighbouring properties, he opened the world’s first dry tea and coffee shop, standing in its current location at 216 London Strand. Now ladies could browse tea for themselves without damaging their reputation!
Over the years, Twinings has had some very important customers. Notably Jane Austen, but one of Thomas’s best customers was destined to become a famous artist: William Hogarth. When William was a regular at Tom’s Coffee House, he had not yet been recognised for his great talent. In fact, he struggled to settle his account with Thomas. According to the family, Thomas struck up a deal with William: in exchange for painting his portrait, William’s debt would be settled and perhaps some credit established too. You can view this wonderful portrait in the Strand tasting room today.